Philippine Bishop Opposes Proposed Two-Child Policy

Denies That Numerous Families Cause Poverty

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MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Philippine bishop’s conference said the proposed two-child law presented last week in parliament is a "coercive system against couples."



"The Church appeals to the government to eradicate corruption and poverty before attacking the sanctity of each family with the control of births," said Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao in a statement as reported by AsiaNews.

“The two-child law is not necessary, it is prejudicial and it is not practicable," asserted the archbishop on Friday.

The controversial bill, submitted by Congressman Edcel Lagman to the parliament last week is called the "Reproductive Health Act." The bill is intended to curb the Philippine’s growth rate of 2.36 percent per year, the highest in the world.

The bill is written to encourage birth control by giving families financial incentives if they limit the number of their children to two. The incentive package includes tax advantages, preference in the granting of scholarships at the tertiary level and a number of discounts.

Under the bill, "the state shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive policy on reproductive health in connection with sustainable human development and effective population management."

The bill encourages "the limitation of the number of children to an affordable level of two children per family ... to attain the desired population growth rate."

Far from having its origin in the high number of births—a "simplistic" thesis—"the reasons for the poverty of so many Filipinos are others: governmental corruption, lack of quality of educational and health services, unjust and unbalanced distribution of land and natural resources, high unemployment and the great burden of the external debt," said Archbishop Capalla.

"The Church is ready to work with the government to combat the roots of poverty and to ensure the authentic development of the people, and not to bring down the people for the purpose of development," the statement continued.

"The two-child law is a veiled coercive system that destroys the freedom of conscience and natural right of couples to choose the number of children," the prelate specified.

Moreover, "the two-child law spreads the mentality of contraception and abortion that is in opposition to the culture of life."

Attorney Jo Imbong, executive secretary of the legal office of the Philippine bishops’ conference, had said earlier that the bill "defies the state's constitutional mandate to value and protect the institution of marriage, strengthen the family and foster its solidarity and full development."

In Imbong's opinion, in addition to being "an offense for the rights of the family," the proposed bill "violates the spouses' right to religious belief, which does not only mean the freedom to believe but also includes the freedom to act on one's belief."